June is the start of the hurricane season in the Western Hemisphere. If you live in areas that could be affected, don’t be caught unprepared. It’s never too early to start preparing for hurricane season. Gear up for disaster in advance of the hurricane, and act on those preparations the moment an alert is issued by emergency officials.
How to Prepare for Hurricane Season
People who live in areas that are normally in the path of hurricanes should take the following precautionary steps to prepare for a hurricane:
Plan for Evacuation
Storm surges can reach up to 20 feet high, causing people to evacuate coastal areas. Entering the most active period of hurricane season, it’s important to be prepared for an evacuation. Create an evacuation checklist and route, as well as a definitive destination where your family will meet in the event you’re separated while leaving your home.
Your hurricane evacuation checklist should include both a list of tasks to complete before leaving and a list of what to bring with you when evacuating.
Before leaving, make sure your home is ready to weather the coming storm. Clear your yard of any debris that may be lifted by wind or floodwaters. Protect your windows with stormproof shutters or plywood. Move valuables to a second level if possible, where they’re less likely to be affected by flooding. Just before evacuating your home, unplug appliances and electronics, turn off the water, electricity and gas, and lock each of your home’s windows and doors.
Documents to Pack in Your Evacuation Bag
Your emergency evacuation checklist should include storing both physical and digital copies of important documents in a waterproof case. Your driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate, passport, home or renters insurance, and information for your bank and credit card accounts should be included.
Include medical insurance details, medical records and doctors’ contact information in your waterproof bag so any necessary medical treatment can be completed as quickly as possible. Each member of your family should also have contact information for each other, family or friends out of the disaster zone, and the Red Cross or another relief agency.
Include an extra set of house and car keys in your waterproof container.
Food Items to Include in Your Evacuation Bag
Food and water are among the most important items on your hurricane evacuation checklist. Pack fresh water and non-perishable food for at least three days. Bring a can opener, utensils, cups, paper towels and any other items your family may need to eat and drink during an evacuation.
Toiletries to Include in Your Evacuation Bag
Personal hygiene is important in large shelters. Pack moist towelettes, toilet paper, toothbrushes, towels and soaps.
First aid supplies are essential during an evacuation. Pack a simple first aid kit that includes over the counter medications, sunscreen and insect repellant. Any necessary prescription medications should also be packed; include enough for seven days.
General Items to Pack in Your Evacuation Bag
The next items in your evacuation bag should be those that help you address unusual or emergency situations. A flashlight and radio with extra batteries, maps, a compass and a whistle for each person will help you stay connected, even without power. Pack your cell phone and a charger to use in areas with service and electricity. Bring matches and a multitool (or a pocket knife and screwdriver) when evacuating your home. Cash, rather than credit or debit cards, can be accepted in stores without power or operating at a limited capacity.
Prepare for a few days in a shelter, hotel or family member’s home with a complete change of clothes. Rain gear, sturdy shoes and protective clothing are helpful, not only when evacuating, but when returning to affected communities. An emergency blanket, lightweight blanket, sleeping bag and travel pillow can keep you and your family more comfortable.
Evacuating requires a lot of waiting. Keep busy with toys and games that don’t require electricity. Pack a few books for each family member as well.
For families with pets, emergency evacuation is slightly more complex. Know where to seek pet-friendly shelter or have a boarding facility in mind, as many emergency shelters don’t allow animals. Pack food, water and medications for your pet, as well as a collar with contact information and proof of vaccination. You may want to consider a second collar for hurricane evacuation with the phone number of a family member or friend who lives outside the affected region. They’ll be more likely to answer the phone and have the means to pick up your pet if necessary.
Prepare Your Home
It’s important to do what you can to fortify your house against possible damage if you live in a hurricane-prone area. Here are some ways you can prepare your home for a hurricane:
- Inspect the roof, walls, windows and doors for possible weaknesses or defects that could be exacerbated by a hurricane. Be sure to properly seal any cracks, holes or leaks where water can get in.
- Remove any debris, hanging branches or unstable trees from your lawn to prevent costly accidents or injuries from happening during the storm.
- Install storm shutters to shield your windows from strong winds. If you’re in a cash or time crunch, screw plywood to your home to cover windows. If you have extra space in your home, use a window-free room with sturdy walls to keep your family and prized possessions safe.
- Make sure your sump pump is operating properly before a major storm to prevent potential flooding or plumbing issues.
- Make sure that your insurance coverage covers what you expect it to in case your home suffers damage from the hurricane. If you can afford it, add flood coverage and expenses coverage to help cover your home in case of hurricane or flood damage that renders your home uninhabitable.
- Keep a record of all the things inside your home. In addition to a written down list, take a video or pictures of everything for undeniable proof of items you owned prior to loss or damage.
Invest in a Backup Generator
A power outage is a common result of hurricanes. Having a backup power generator could be a lifesaver for your family. Its ability to provide continuous power as long as it has a supply of fuel makes it well-suited for providing both long- and short-term backup power in the case of a natural disaster.
Americas Generators offers an extensive stock of generators from 20 to 500 kW available immediately for hurricane season.
Proper Generator Maintenance Before a Hurricane
Preventive generator maintenance plays a critical role in maximizing reliability, minimizing repairs and reducing long term costs. By properly maintaining your electric generator, you can ensure that you are never left without electricity during hurricane season.
It’s important to ensure that your generator fuel is properly stored. If your generator runs on diesel fuel, you will need to change out your fuel supply at least once every 12 months. In the event that you neglect to properly store or change your fuel, condensation can occur and cause major damage to your generator when it is switched on.
An important prevention measure for businesses or homes with particularly fragile residents (small children, elders or people requiring health equipment) is having at least 72 hours of fuel stored at all times. This will help with continuous operations in case a local catastrophe causes severe fuel shortages.
If you are relying on a standby generator to power your home or business during a grid failure, you should make sure to schedule routine maintenance for your generator equipment. Generators require the same types of regular tune-ups and maintenance procedures as other mechanical devices. Do not wait until an imminent threat to see if it is working; regularly replace oil, fuel and air filters, and have a technician inspect the condition of other vital parts in the unit.
Americas Generators offers all of the parts and accessories you need to keep your unit performing in optimal conditions. For more generator maintenance tips, read our maintenance checklist guide.